Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police are going online to crack down on men seeking sex from Internet escorts.

Faced with a rash of assaults and rapes by men who responded to online sex ads, CMPD in June began sending female officers to Charlotte-area hotels to meet potential johns.

Deputy Chief Harold Medlock said officers are monitoring sites such as Craigslist, Backpage and Eros.

Police say the undercover operation has two goals: to eliminate the availability of escorts in Charlotte and to get information on suspects who may be preying on women who use the sites to sell sex.

“Our everyday focus and goal is driving crime down,” Medlock said.

Police said some of the men who robbed and sexually assaulted prostitutes in the Charlotte area came from as far away as South Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana and Florida to meet the women.

Police said the operation so far has netted 24 suspects, including 34-year-old Kyle Mayfield.

Mayfield, a New Jersey native, was arrested August 1 and charged with first-degree rape. Police say that in two cases he identified himself as a law enforcement officer then sexually assaulted his victims.

Police nationwide have been battling a sharp rise in crimes involving sex ads on Web sites such as Craigslist. In some cases, the women who placed the ads have been killed.

In June, Kannapolis police arrested a husband who allegedly solicited a stranger on Craigslist to rape his wife. The assailant also was later arrested.

CMPD on Tuesday also released July crime statistics, which showed a 21.2 percent reduction in reported crimes as compared with July 2008. Crime fell in every category except rape, which was up 16.4 percent.

The July statistics were:

  • Robberies, down 19.9 percent
  • Rape, up 16.4 percent
  • Aggravated assault, down 23.7 percent
  • Residential burglary, down 17.4 percent
  • Commercial burglary, down 22.3 percent
  • Vehicle theft, down 35.3 percent
  • Larceny, down 19.9 percent
  • Arson, down 10.4 percent

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